Shaft (2000)
Main cast: Samuel L. Jackson (John Shaft), Vanessa L. Williams (Carmen), Jeffrey Wright (Peoples Hernandez), Christian Bale (Walter Wade), Dan Hedaya (Jack Roselli), Busta Rhymes (Rasaan), and Toni Collette (Diane)
Director: John Singleton

Who's the black private dick who's a sex machine with all the chicks?

Not this Shaft. Samuel L Jackson plays John Shaft with a measure of sly irony and pizazz but the behind-the-scenes story of this problem-ridden production (the Singleton-Jackson feud, for one) is way more interesting than the final product.

The plot is simple: Walter Wade is a racist pig (you know he must be white) who killed a young Black college student. Since he is so rich, he skips bail to Switzerland. Now he's back, out to get Shaft. Also, Shaft has a drug kingpin who wants to do him in. Then there are the corrupt cops, of course.

Yawn. Seen better in Robocop.

Shaft goes on a cheerless rampage, all just to catch one dumb college kid with way too much cash on his hands. Carmen and Rasaan take space on the screen, and they all go wander around, middling, piddling, chasing, running... pfffttt.

And Shaft, black sex machine he is, never gets it on with any chick in da hood. No big deal, if the show's fun. It's not. There are some really tedious social commentaries made with the subtlety and maturity of an overzealous high school kid - Black people are good! Black people rule! White people are murderers and bigots (except for those white chicks that dig Black guys, y'know?) Such crude, juvenile rants is enforced by shallow one-dimensional characterization and slam-bang violence. No style, no substance, nothing.

Wonder what's wrong - is the cast too scared of actually making adult, mature political statements in case someone gets offended? Then why lay thick the ridiculous preaching? Maybe they should have stuck to the blaxploitation that is the old Shaft - James Bond is still doing it, why not John Shaft?

File this under Plot Viagra Deficiency.

Rating: 20

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